Mind the gap parking or you’re in tight spot

There’s a real squeeze on decent parking spots – motoring editor Andy Russell says it’s another reason to down-size your car.

More and more drivers are down-sizing cars to cut their running costs. That’s for sure but I have another theory – it’s because they’re fed up driving round and round car parks trying to find a space they can fit into.

You can be the best driver in the world with all the latest parking assist aids to guide, slide and drive you automatically in and out of the tightest spot but it’s not a lot of use if you can’t actually open the car doors to get out – there was a time you could at least climb out of the sunroof in an emergency! Multi-storey car parks seem to be even worse with the added hazards of concrete posts and structures to negotiate too.

There’s no denying most cars are growing with each generation – it is said the current Volkswagen Polo is a similar size to the Mark I Golf and there wasn’t a lot between the original Ford Ka and the first Fiesta. I knew someone who had three different generations of the same make and model and, with the last one, had to fold in the driver’s door mirror to get it into his garage – that’s another issue with cars getting wider with narrow older garage doors.

Growing vehicle size is a significant issue for car park owners and drivers, leading to frustration of not finding a space big enough or your car being damaged by other drivers misjudging the space or dinging your car when opening their doors.

My two sons, when young, used to laugh at me driving round a car park looking for a space where I was less likely to get clunked or clonked by another vehicle. It is interesting, now they have their own cars, they tend to do the same self-preservation parking. I could say don’t knock it until you’ve tried it but that seems the wrong expression as it is exactly what we are trying to avoid!

With many modern cars up to 20% wider than when most parking spaces were laid out, a standardised new car park space is needed and there are calls for SizeMark – an industry standard car park space size based on the dimensions of modern cars – to be introduced.

On the subject of car parking spaces and problems, Tony Hatch contacted me to say it appeared the standard car park bay in the UK is about 4.75m by 1.8m which is much too small even for the small car which are often two-door models. Allowing suitable clearances all round, right-angled car parking bays should be 4.8m by 2.5m minimum, with a manoeuvering width of 6.5m minimum behind.

“I have noticed that parking bays have been reducing in size over the past 30 years, making it very difficult to manoeuvre and open doors to squeeze out or in so as not to damage an adjacent car. This problem is accentuated in the case of the two-door car as these doors are wider to allow access to the rear seating. Some allowance needs to be made for the larger person and those not so agile.

“I make a point of avoiding car parks with narrow parking spaces and opt to park on the roadside when possible. I look forward to the day of wider parking bays but will this ever happen? If it does, I will certainly make a beeline for those car parks.”

And Ian Cruttenden said it wasn’t helped by some drivers ignoring no-entry signs and one-way white markings in the roadways on car parks while many of the aisles were too narrow and confined.

He said a solution might be to arrange car parking spaces at a 30 to 45-degree angle to the roadway to make it easier to park and reverse out – with no possibility of going the wrong way along the roadway.

Watch this space… hopefully!

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